Board Game Compression Experiment

Reading about folks “compressing” their games in preparation for travel, I was inspired.

We just returned from a weekend trip to Indianapolis (about 90 minutes from our home on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio) with a bag full of games (in their boxes) in tow. I thought this would be a good opportunity to experiment to see what could be gained by “compressing” these games for easier transport.

THE STARTING HAND:
These were the games we took to Indianapolis with us.

These 11 games in their boxes pretty much filled my ‘game garage’, which is an insulated food transportation bag from Gordon Food Service, roughly 21″x12″x12″ (available in-store for $3.50). It’s got ‘good enough’ handles, though with that many games the handles dug into my hands a bit. Still, for the price, it’s a great solution. And if it breaks, who cares? It was $3.50!

I weighed the bag with the games in┬átheir boxes and it was 31.5 pounds. Here’s a picture:

 

THE GAME PLAN:

  • To gain as much space as feasible by leaving behind the box, inserts, and any other non-gameplay-related pieces.
  • To take the entire game — boards, minis, pieces, parts, manuals, etc. Leave nothing behind but the box (and etc. as detailed above).

I removed all the games (except those marked with an “(*)” above which weren’t “compressed” because they’re already small enough {though I probably could have saved a little space in the Deep Space D-6 box and possibly the Tiny Epic Galaxies box}) from their boxes and put the components into a large Ziplock bag, one game per Ziplock. In the case of real travel, I would label each bags with a Sharpie. Components in most of my games are in small Ziplock bags within their boxes, so this was fairly easy. For card-intensive games like Mystic Vale, Ashes, Dresden, and Aeon’s End I rubber-banded the cards together in their groups as in the box (for example, all Book cards from Dresden were rubber-banded together). Manuals, boards, minis, and etc. were placed together into a stack nearby.

After “compressing” all the games, I put the manuals, boards, minis, etc. into the bottom of the bag. I put the Ziplock-bagged games in next. My ‘game garage’ was less than half full, and the weight was reduced to 23 pounds — a weight savings of 8.5 pounds!

OBSERVATIONS:
Rubber bands are bad. If I were doing this ‘for real’, I would use something more forgiving than rubber bands to collect my cards together, especially cards with dividers like those in Aeon’s End and Dresden.

It bothered me very little to remove the games from their boxes and put them into easier-to-transport Ziplocks. If I had a proper solution to use instead of rubber bands for card-sets (maybe smaller Ziplocks for a bag-within-a-bag approach), I would not mind transporting games this way.

Every game’s components (except for boards, minis, and manuals) fit inside a standard gallon-sized Ziplock bag — even Delve with its loads of tiles and dice. Even games that feel “bigger” fit into a gallon Ziplock.

Mystic Vale is really heavy for its size.

Mystic Vale’s Advancement cards slice right through rubber bands. Like a hot knife through butter.

Flimsy boards and manuals need support. They can be a little floppy (especially the manuals) and I worry about them getting bent. Consider taking a printout of the manual on 8.5×11 paper — using FinePrint to save paper & space — for travel and store the boards carefully (maybe on top). Or use a piece of cardboard or a binder to provide some ridgity to the boards and manuals.

Consider not including minis to further compress. Or, perhaps more realistically, don’t take mini games (like Scythe) at all because the hotel may not be set up for them. The added bulk of minis and sometimes-difficult play conditions at a hotel make mini games (to me) less-appropriate candidates for travel.

One drawback I noticed was that the ‘game garage’ was less structured without the boxes inside, and it wouldn’t stand up on its own. This was expected, but still noteworthy.

THE END GAME:
If you’re traveling, don’t be afraid to take your games out of their boxes and put them into labeled Ziplock bags. Consider the boards and manuals as you pack to prevent them from getting wrinkled or buckled.

 

The manuals and boards.

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